Iniesta unlikely for Club World Cup final
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is almost certain to miss
Saturday's Club World Cup final against Estudiantes because of a
similar leg muscle injury that left him on the sidelines for most
of the offseason.
Barcelona said Iniesta's left leg injury from Wednesday's 3-1 semifinal victory over Mexican club Atlante "practically ruled him out of the final." The Spain international will undergo further tests later Thursday to determine the severity of the injury.
Iniesta tore a muscle in the same area of his right leg last season. The 25-year-old Spaniard missed the Confederations Cup and the early part of this season to recover.
Estudiantes said Iniesta's absence would only make a slight difference to Barcelona's chances.
"He's a great player. He brings a lot to the team," defender Leandro Desabat said. "They might feel it, but that doesn't mean they just depend on that player. They have so many great players that it won't make the biggest difference."
Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi has also just returned from an ankle injury, coming off the bench to score with his first touch Wednesday.
However, Desabat was more concerned about his likely assignment at Zayed Sports City Stadium - marking striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
"To see him on TV is one thing, compared to in person, and to see the way he moves is surprising," Desabat said. "I didn't think he was so massive and controlled the ball so well."
Estudiantes won the competition in 1968, when it was known as the Intercontinental Cup. Barcelona is looking for an unprecedented sixth major trophy in 2009 after triumphs in the Champions League, Spanish league, Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercup and European Supercup.
Desabat said Estudiantes' chance of victory will likely come down to seizing its few opportunities.
"We have a way of playing and we're not going to change it," Desabat said. "There are few chances to play this kind of game, or to win it either. We'll fight for it."